Under the auspices of the Future and Emergent Technologies Unit of the Information Society Technologies of DG XII of the European Commission and the National Science Foundation of the United States of America
Scientific Coordinator: Tamás Roska
Organizational Coordinator: Jean-Eric Pin and Remi Ronchaud
In June, 2001, in Brussels, about twenty scientists working in thefields of bionics (biologists and IT researchers), as well as a few science policy managers, from both sides of the Atlantic, gathered to define a joint research agenda which could define a joint research program. This program, for discovering and implementing new ideas, methods, and devices, in the field of BIONICS will be beneficial for millions of people suffering of different handicaps and diseases, would ease the life for millions of families and workers, and would create a new industry in the 21st century. This has been a response to a former initiative of the government of the United States and the European Commission.
BIONICS has been understood as a common notion for bio-inspired information technology, including, typically three types of systems, namely,
bio-morphic (e.g. neuromorphic) and bio-inspired electronic/optic devices,
autonomous artificial sensor-processor-activator prostheses and various devices built into the human body, and
living-artificial interactive symbioses, e.g. brain-controlled devices or robots.
In spite of some restrictive use of the name of bionics in popular culture, as well as the unfulfilled promises in the fields of neural networks, artificial intelligence, soft computing and other “oversold” areas, it was agreed that the name bionics defined above is a right one for the emergent technology described also as bio-inspired information technology (some people suggesti info-bionics). There are many programs at several funding agencies that support some parts of this field under many other names.
There are several driving forces behind this technology, some of them are as follows:
Recent advances in technology
advanced micro sensor and MEMS technology (“the sensor revolution”, including micro sensors and actuators)
A multitude of new ideas is emerging and the synergy of the different cultural backgrounds could be highly beneficial.
There is a need for some quasi-standards as soon as possible, and the easiest way is to set them in the research phase.
An organized exchange of doctoral students is needed with a mutually acknowledged credit system, they could benefit from a medium-term-stay (e.g., 2-3 semesters) and return to their home Laboratories acquiring credits.
The area is a genuine multi-disciplinary field where the lack of well -trained and innovative scientists and engineers is a major bottleneck.
The Workshop had been prepared before the meeting in Brussels. The four areas are selected and described. The participants prepared their short summaries and the Chair and the Reporter in each session had been selected. All participants attended all sessions with an active discussion. The summaries of each session discussions leading to a better definition of the related areas are summarized in this Report.
In addition to the presentations and discussions about the content of a later joint call for proposals, several key action items emerged from the discussions during the workshop. These are summarized, as well.
In the appendices we give the data and the summary of contributions, as well as the CVs of the participants.
We are indebted to the enthusiasm and foresight of the leading science policy managers at both institutions (NSF and IST/FET) as well as the administrative organizers of the Workshop at ERCIM.
List of Participants Bensasson, S (FET Head of Unit, European Commission)
Bessant, C (Cranfield University at Silsoe, Bedfordshire)
Dittmar, A (INSA de Lyon)
Dorfner, G (University of Vienna)
Eckmiller, R (University of Bonn)
Engel, A (Inst. of Medicine, Research Centre Juelich)
Fortuna, L (University of Catania)
Franceschini, N (Laboratory of Neurobiology, CNRS)
Gál, V (Neuromorphic Information Technology Postgraduate Center, Budapest)